SMH - 28.8.2011
The Queensland government is investigating a gas field west of Brisbane after the discovery of traces of cancer-causing chemicals at five bores.
Benzene, toluene and xylene were discovered during routine tests of 14 bores used to monitor the company’s coal seam gas (CSG) dams at the Tipton West and Daandine gas fields near Dalby, Arrow Energy said in a statement on Sunday.
Benzene, toluene, ethylene and xylene (commonly known as BTEX) were outlawed last October in Queensland for use in fracking, a process used in the CSG industry to split rock seams and extract methane.
The find is the latest of a string of contaminations in Queensland’s CSG industry.
In November last year, the chemicals were found in three of Arrow Energy’s CSG wells at Moranbah in central Queensland.
Also last year, Cougar Energy’s pilot underground coal gasification plant near Kingaroy was shut down by the state government after benzene and toluene were found at just two parts per billion in nearby bores.
Drew Hutton from Friends of the Earth said the level of chemicals at Arrow’s operations was considerably higher than the level at which Cougar was shut down.
Mr Hutton said the probable source of the chemicals was the coal seam itself and it was likely the chemicals were mobilised by the CSG extraction process.
“(It) is another example of alarm bells going off about the coal seam gas industry,” he said.
A Senate inquiry is examining the impact of CSG on the economy, society and environment.
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